Football Tribe SEA Editor
Eintracht Frankfurt pulled off a shock 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates last night in the UEFA Europa League, a result that meant Arsenal had failed to win any of their last 7 matches in all competitions, The Gunners’ worst run in form since 1992. The defeat meant that Arsenal head coach Unai Emery is on the brink of being sacked while Arsenal are left having to avoid a heavy defeat away at Standard Liege to ensure their spot in the Europa League Round of 32.
One player stood out from the rest in this Group F match and that is Japanese international Daichi Kamada. Kamada, who previously only had one goal in 27 appearances for Eintracht, was instrumental in the Bundesliga side’s victory by bagging himself a brace. His goals helped Eintracht to their first win in English soil since their 2-1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor in the 1966-67 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (the predecessor to the current Europa League).
Arsenal started the first-half brightly and despite losing David Luiz to injury in the 31st minute, they were still threatening the Eintracht goal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka being the key suspects in constantly troubling the Eintracht defense. The Gunners got their deserved lead in the first minute of stoppage time, with Martinelli and Aubameyang combining nicely for the latter to finish it off with a shot that deflected in off the crossbar.
Playing inside an Emirates filled only with Arsenal supporters thanks to a UEFA punishment on the Eintracht supporters that prevented them from attending the match due to their bad behavior in an earlier match, Adi Hütter’s men were limited to only one shot on target throughout the first half, but the second half yielded a different story from Eintracht.
Adi decided to revitalize his attack during half-time with the introduction of Mijat Gaćinović and Dominik Khor, however it was Arsenal’s woeful defending that allowed Kamada to show off his worth.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos was guilty of allowing the lively Kamada the time and space needed to execute a wonderful shot that went past Arsenal goalie Emiliano Martínez in the 55th minute. Arsenal was immediately gripped with panic after the equalizer and literally fell apart in the 64th minute. The Gunners’ defenders failed to clear a corner, allowing Kamada to drive home a well-aimed effort with his right foot, completing the ex-Sagan Tosu player’s brace.
Returning to Eintracht from a loan spell at Belgian side Sint-Truiden, Kamada was mostly played as an attacking midfielder by Adi instead of the usual second striker role that he had grown accustomed to in Belgium. This meant that he hasn’t been able to score as much as he did with Sint-Truiden, however it is hoped that Kamada’s brace against Arsenal would help revitalize the Japanese international’s scoring boots. Overseeing Kamada’s growth at Eintracht is former Japan captain Makoto Hasebe, who serves as Eintracht’s vice-captain, and Kamada will be hoping that he could emulate his senior’s success.
Elsewhere in the Europa League, it has been a good matchweek for Japanese players as Takuma Asano scored for Partizan Belgrade in their 2-2 draw at AZ Alkmaar in the competition’s Group L, a result that confirms AZ’s qualification to the Round of 32 from the group alongside Manchester United, whose youthful team lost 2-1 at Nur-Sultan at the hands of FC Astana.